- In and Out of Bondage:Identity, Eroticism, and Desire in Inés Arredondo and Juan García Ponce
Mexico City in the 1960s witnessed the flourishing and literary consolidation of the Generación de la Ruptura (also called la generación de la Casa del Lago and la generación de Medio Siglo),1 a group of intellectuals born in the mid-twentieth century who met and worked together at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and began to publish during the 1950s. This generation, which included José Agustín, Inés Arredondo, Rosario Castellanos, Salvador Elizondo, Juan García Ponce, Margo Glantz, and Gustavo Sainz, formed a literary mafia united by "una defensa de los valores literarios, … un repudio a lo nacionalista, a lo oficialista, [y] a lo 'mexicano'" (Díaz y Morales 19–20, Pereira 130), and their writings were calibrated to destabilize the idea of an "innate" Mexican identity and aesthetic. One important element in this process of destabilization is the focus on and use of eroticism in many of the works that emerged from this period, among them Arredondo's use of incest ("La sunamita", "El estío"), Elizondo's clinical eroticism in Farabeuf, and García Ponce's explorations of eroticism and sexuality that cross lines of gender, genealogy, and even biology (as in his short story "El gato"). While the focus on eroticism is a vital element in the Ruptura writers' subversive program (Bruce-Novoa 2), it is also noteworthy that so many of their stories revolve around female protagonists. At first glance, at least in terms of gender, one might question the subversive nature of these texts, as the gender relations are often sharply polarized and with misogynistic overtones: these women are oppressed by men while claiming to enjoy, choose, and/or deserve their (mis)treatment. I would suggest that this polarization, however, exists not only to subvert the dominant political, artistic and moral culture in Mexico at that time but also to problematize and shed light upon "hierarchical and binary gendered positions" (Butler 98) sanctioned by that same culture.
Inés Arredondo and Juan García Ponce are two important figures in the Ruptura generation, or the generación del Medio Siglo. I propose to read García Ponce's novel Inmaculada o los placeres de la inocencia (1989) in counterpoint to Inés Arredondo's earlier short story "La sunamita," (originally published in the short story collection La señal, 1965) as both employ erotic elements with disruptive intentions but with nearly diametrical approaches to the presentation of the female figure, desire, and sexuality. Judith Butler's reformulation of prohibition as power (97–106) will serve as a starting point from which [End Page 51] to analyze the erotic elements employed by Arredondo and García Ponce. I am particularly interested in Butler's formulations on the prohibition against incest and homosexuality, two primary themes in the texts examined. The connections that Michel Foucault draws between sex and truth in The History of Sexuality will also figure in this analysis, as will his ideas on the presence and function of incest in the family structure. His analyses are often in dialogue with Butler's, as Gender Trouble engages with Foucault's History from a more feminist standpoint. As is only necessary, my analysis will also consider the Mexican historical and political contexts in which the works were produced.
The Ruptura writers in general, and Arredondo and García Ponce in particular, were active participants in the counterculture as well and leveled their writings at very specific moral, political and artistic values in the Mexico in which they lived and worked, sharing, as Raúl Rodríguez Hernández observes, "a preoccupation with the future of the postrevolutionary nation as it begins to traverse the uncertain and slippery terrain of modernity with the concomitant question of what to do with the traces and vestiges of a supposedly collective past, and whether they were or are valid for the rest of the country" (Mexico's Ruins 19). Indeed, Arredondo and García Ponce constantly struggle to navigate and make sense of Mexico's past, present, and future, creating...